Bodies Bodies Bodies

Directed by: Halina Reijn
Distributed by: A24

Written by Nick McCann


In 1932, Universal Pictures and director James Whale released “The Old Dark House,” a moody horror film that saw a group of people trapped in a big mansion during a nasty storm. “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is that but with lots more drugs and glowsticks! It’s amazing the lengths some artists go to freshen up old ideas. In this case, indie studio powerhouse A24 and director Halina Reijin have recently come together to give their spin on such a classic premise. And the results are some high entertainment and smart dissection.

The story is that classic premise wrapped up with new looks. It’s tuned tight for the age of influencers and ravers, with the writing reflecting that continually. For all its unintelligent presentation, the film is actually highly intelligent under the hood. It calls out how airheaded and vapid the spoils of such lives are in a survival situation while still using elements in the characters’ framework and dynamics to ratchet up the tension. I found myself invested in the group’s frivolity as the atmosphere took on equal parts dark comedy and raw discomfort. It’s very well-paced and has something new to show as the scenes transition. This is perhaps the only film I can recall getting nervous over what a person’s zodiac sign is while watching.

The cast, in that regard, does an excellent job all around. Everyone gets the right amount of set up and their personalities are the types that could use a punch or two in the face. The outlier there is Maria Bakalova, being the most likable through her grounded disposition and clear detachment from this rowdy bunch. Everyone gets time to shine through, from Pete Davidson being a grand champion A-hole to Rachel Sennott’s glow stick-bearing airheaded nature. The movie really relishes in having these characters argue their heads off with each other to the point where you would like them to drop dead. While that can be hard to handle as a viewer, it works for the story and themes at play. And with almost everyone hopped up on some kind of drug it’s understandable narratively.

Keeping with that rave mentality, kudos should go to the soundtrack. Disasterpiece delivers a fresh synth score that takes familiar rave sounds and makes them both unnerving and catchy. The sound design as a whole is quite good too, be it the rush of the hurricane outside the house or the unsettling treks through the dark halls. The cinematography is just as erratic and in the moment as the characters are, always on the move and rarely sitting still. Lighting in particular is excellent through a primary use of flashlights, glow sticks, and cell phones for a majority of the movie. The way the darkness wraps around someone in a scene especially feels claustrophobic.

“Bodies Bodies Bodies” is cramped thrills matched by some smart writing. You’re constantly on your toes with characters that’d be right at home in a wood chipper and trapped with them under the oppression of mother nature. For all it has to say, the film is a tightly constructed thriller that’ll have you giggling and wiggling in your seat.

“Bodies Bodies Bodies” Trailer

“Bodies Bodies Bodies” is in wide theatrical release.

You can connect with Nick on his Facebook and Letterboxd.

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